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Keep your non-traditional wedding non-traditional

As love is in the air, thanks to Saint Valentine, it’s a good time to think about same-sex weddings and the pressures to stick to traditional wedding norms.

wedding budget

You’re not “traditional.” Your relationship’s not traditional. Don’t bow down to wedding traditions.

As love is in the air, thanks to Saint Valentine, it’s a good time to think about same-sex weddings.

Per The Knot’s 2016 LGBTQ Weddings Study, one year after same-sex marriage was legalized, all aspects of same-sex weddings began to look much more traditional. These include expenses for engagement rings, significant guest lists, wedding parties and all the costs that are adopted with traditional ceremonies.

With financial stress being the number one cause of tension in traditional relationships, does it make sense for the queer community to stay non-traditional? Could we reduce financial stress, and remain authentic, in our relationships if we stayed a little non-traditional?

If so, let’s start with our non-traditional weddings.

Size Matters

Guest size is one of the leading determinants of wedding costs. After finding adequate space, providing food and drink and even gifting party favors, the cost of hosting one single person at your wedding will be expensive. Think: well over $100 a person. With that in mind, does it really matter if your third uncle once removed attends your wedding?

While weddings have traditionally been a time for mom and dad to invite the whole family tree and any colleague and business partner they ever worked with, yours is not a traditional wedding. Unlike traditional weddings, 70 percent of same-sex spouses say they forked over most the cost of their wedding.

If mom and dad want to throw a venti-size party, don’t subsidize it. You and your fiancé should host a wedding that’s right-sized for your budget so that you won’t be set back financially.

Location. Location. Location.

If you think that location is the most critical consideration when buying a home, you’d be right. Another important location decision is where you’ll have your wedding.

Most churches today won’t host same-sex weddings and for many small towns, same-sex ceremonies are still an awkward affair. You could see this as a reason to stand your ground and change minds, but it’s also an opportunity to save a buck (and this article’s about saving a buck – not making change).

Destination weddings are great for many reasons. The first is that if you choose an all-inclusive resort, your overall costs may be less than if you purchased everything separately from different businesses for every part of your wedding. All-inclusive is all-inclusive, so you’ll get one bill for your wedding expenses and your guests will get one bill for their personal expenses.

Most all-inclusive resorts that host weddings provide many of the services that your wedding may require, such as bartenders and drinks, servers, cooks and food, party supplies and furniture, which eliminates the need to tediously cost compare a bunch of vendors. Your options may be fewer, but you can lessen the costs associated with needing to rent furniture and eliminate a lot of decision-making stress.

Another benefit of destination weddings is that they inherently reduce your guest list, which ultimately reduces costs too. Some people won’t travel far and wide to see you walk down the aisle. So, that third uncle once removed probably won’t come anyway.

Lastly, your destination wedding can double as your destination honeymoon. This will save you a lot of money on airfare alone. Also, the longer you stay at your all-inclusive wedding resort destination location, the move leverage you have to negotiate a lower net cost.

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Just Say, “No.”

When vetting businesses that host traditional weddings, they usually want to do the traditional upsell such as premium entrees like lobster (subject to market prices), and premium flowers, (subject to seasons and weather). Be clear about the one or two most important features you and your same-sex fiancé want. Allow for a little more spending in these areas and say no to everything else.

If a traditional wedding dress or tuxedo isn’t your style, go casual. If you don’t require a minister, get a friend ordained online for $200. If you don’t need a five-course meal, I hear wedding pizzas are all the rage right now.

If traditional wedding rings aren’t your thing, go with rings that have more meaning to you even if they come from a gumball machine. Put the money you’d spend on traditional rings toward something as uniquely special as you, such as travel, wedding necklaces or a painted portrait of your special day.

Skip the idle and costly sit-down dinner and make it an active affair. Denver’s “fabulous” wedding coordinator, Aimee Palifroni says, “A great way to have a non-traditional wedding without compromising your budget is to have ‘action stations’ that let your guests mingle and flow. Set up different menu stations around the room with a mixture of seating that includes small and large round tables for sitting and high-top tables for standing.”


The best way to save money on weddings is to not have one. This won’t make everyone in your family happy, but this is your wedding. An intimate moment alone may be just the ceremony for you.

Elope. Mail marriage announcements with your gift registry and your wedding is a net-positive from the start. This way, your third uncle once removed won’t have to mail a declination and may be guilted into buying that avocado scooper you so desperately need.

It’s a Wedding, Not Mardi Gras

Next to you marrying someone of the same sex, according to The Bible, a wedding without wine may be the most non-traditional thing of all. That said, your wedding isn’t Mardi Gras. As another line item that often blows wedding budgets, limiting or eliminating alcohol will save your bottom line.

Ultimately, it’s about the bottom line.

Some alternatives to alcohol include a special mocktail for your special day named after you and your fiancé. Provide an open bar during certain portions of the wedding – say up to the end of dinner when people want to start dancing or only for the toast. There’s always BYOB, or just provide one brand of wine or beer. Keep liquor cash-only.

There are a number of ways you can make your non-traditional wedding as unique and non-traditional as you and your same-sex fiancé. Don’t go into debt living up to traditional expectations. The more unique your wedding, the more everyone will remember it.

Life insurance needs aren't one-size-fits-all.

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About John Schneider

John Schneider is a personal finance writer, podcaster and speaker. His work has appeared in Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Business Insider and others. He writes about money at Debt Free Guys™ and talks about money on the Queer Money™ podcast, a podcast about the financial nuances of the LGBTQ community. He can be found on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Read more by John Schneider

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Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

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